The Wagamama Bride (Paperback)
The Wagamama Bride: A Jewish Family Saga Made in Japan opens readers to life in Tokyo today, as seen through the eyes of an American Jewish journalist who marries her shiatsu therapist, a practitioner of Eastern Medicine. Their relationship deepens over an invitation to a Buddhist funeral, and this material girl from New York City ends up being a wife, mother, and attending her son's Sports Day events, armed with kosher rice balls for the entire family. She is a daughter-in-law with deep respect for her new culture and shares laughs with her in-laws, who happen to share her appreciation for art exhibitions in Tokyo department stores. It is a match made in Heaven-until two young Orthodox couples, arriving as Tokyo emissaries of the Lubavitch Rebbe, root themselves in the Chabad Houses they establish, and shake up her world.
She couldn't see it coming-falling in love with Orthodox Jewish practices, the beauty and meaning of that religion's rituals and wisdom, and taking comfort in the sense of community that her Chabad community offered to her children and even her Japanese husband.
Spanning her Jewish-Japanese life over three decades, The Wagamama Bride invites readers into an increasingly Sabbath-observant home to experience a marriage caught in a delicate balancing act between two of the worlds' most ancient noble and opposing cultures, where sacrifice and identity, idol-worship and idol prohibitions, must be negotiated while raising Jewish children with Japanese roots.
Transformation to Jewish Orthodoxy takes place one Shabbat at a time, with Grunberg Wakabayashi sharing the novelties of classical flower arranging customs, creating her own Zen garden, following Taoist meditation practices, and observing Shinto childhood rites of passage and Buddhist temple traditions. She leaves no stone unturned in finding parallels within her Jewish faith. Despite the profound connections she feels with the Japanese culture, a growing feeling of disconnection nags within. The prose is irresistibly lively, even when a death in her family and the hospitalization of her elder child, test her to the limits. The Wagamama Bride expresses what Kirkus Reviews called "an honest and moving account of love, loss, and the discovery of faith." The adventures of this free spirit, grounded in tradition and family-will strike a familiar chord with readers of all nationalities, and backgrounds, searching for one's true self far from home.